Overview: Maternity Care Practices

Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC)

In the United States, nearly all infants are born in a hospital. Their stay is typically very short, but events during this time have lasting effects. Experiences with breastfeeding in the first hours and days of life significantly influence an infant’s later feeding. Several key supportive hospital practices can improve breastfeeding outcomes. Birth facility policies and practices that create a supportive environment for breastfeeding begin prenatally and continue through discharge, and include:

A breastfeeding mother in her hospital bed.
  • Hospital policies—Written hospital policies support breastfeeding and are communicated to staff and patients.
  • Staff training—Hospital requires breastfeeding education, clinical training, and competency verification for all maternity staff who work with breastfeeding families.
  • Immediate skin-to-skin contact—Babies are placed skin-to-skin with their mothers immediately after birth, with no bedding or clothing between them, allowing enough uninterrupted time (at least 1 hour) for mother and baby to start breastfeeding well.
  • Early and frequent breastfeeding—Hospital staff help mothers and babies start breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth, with many opportunities to practice throughout the hospital stay.
  • Teaching about breastfeeding—Hospital staff teach families how to breastfeed and to recognize and respond to baby’s feeding cues.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding—Hospital staff follow current evidence-based protocols for breastfeeding infants, and provide supplementary feedings only when medically necessary.
  • Rooming-in—Hospital staff encourage mothers and babies to room together and teach families the benefits of this kind of close contact, including more opportunities to practice breastfeeding and learn their infant’s feeding cues.
  • Follow-up after discharge—Hospital staff schedule follow-up visits for mothers and babies after they go home and connect families to community breastfeeding resources.